When Roundabout Theatre Company’s new production of the classic musical comedy She Loves Me opened at Studio 54 in 2016, Marilyn Stasio of Variety raved, “The enchanting Broadway revival is so charming, you kind of wish it would follow you home.”
Good news, Broadway fans! This New York Times Critics Pick, declared “a splendid, joy-stuffed production” by Time Out New York, will follow you home in all its exuberant, tuneful glory when we raise the curtain on Broadway’s Best on PBS .
Every Friday night, from October through December, PBS will give theater lovers a front-row seat to some of the best-loved Broadway shows, from glorious, feel-good musicals to captivating dramas – many of them directed for television by David Horn, executive producer of WNET’s popular Great Performances and Theater Close-Up series.
“For over 50 years, PBS has provided audiences locally and across the country with unparalleled access to some of the most exciting and eclectic theater offerings on Broadway and beyond. We’re pleased to continue this great tradition with a diverse mix of recent critically acclaimed productions,” Horn said.
Kicking off the theater fest is Roundabout Theatre Company’s Tony- and Drama Desk Award-winning revival of She Loves Me (Friday, October 20, 9 p.m.). Read on to learn more about She Loves Me and the other programs in the Broadway’s Best line-up!
GREAT PERFORMANCES: She Loves Me
Friday, October 20, 9 p.m.
Featuring a score by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof) and a book by Joe Masteroff (Cabaret), She Loves Me follows two feuding clerks in a 1930s Budapest parfumerie who unwittingly find solace in each other as anonymous romantic pen pals — not realizing their respective correspondents are, in fact, each other. If the story sounds familiar, it is based on the play Parfumerie by Miklos Laszlo, which inspired the films The Shop Around the Corner, In the Good Old Summertime, and You’ve Got Mail. Laura Benanti (Gypsy) and Zachary Levi (TV’s Chuck) play sparring co-workers Amalia and Georg. 30 Rock’s Jane Krakowski (Grand Hotel, Nine) is unlucky-in-love shopgirl Ilona, and Gavin Creel (Hello, Dolly!) is her dapper but unreliable lover. Directed by Scott Ellis, the production features choreography by Warren Carlyle (Hello, Dolly!). Musical highlights include “Vanilla Ice Cream,” a showstopper made famous by Barbara Cook in the original 1963 production.
LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER: Falsettos
Friday, October 27, 9 p.m.
William Finn and James Lapine’s alternatingly comic and heartbreaking musical about a modern family set during the emerging AIDS crisis revolves around the life of a charming, intelligent, neurotic gay man named Marvin, his wife, lover, soon-to-be-Bar-Mitzvahed son, their psychiatrist, and the lesbians next door. Nominated for five 2017 Tony Awards and directed by Lapine, the Lincoln Center Theater production stars Christian Borle (Something Rotten!), Stephanie J. Block (Wicked), Andrew Rannells (The Book of Mormon, TV’s Girls), Anthony Rosenthal (Newsies National Tour), Tracie Thoms (Stick Fly), Brandon Uranowitz (An American in Paris), and Betsy Wolfe (Bullets Over Broadway).
GREAT PERFORMANCES: Noel Coward’s Present Laughter
Friday, November 3, 9 p.m.
Legendary Academy Award and Tony Award winner Kevin Kline made his eagerly awaited return to Broadway in 2017 with a Tony-winning performance in Noel Coward’s outrageously irresistible backstage comedy. With a spectacular cast headed by Kate Burton (Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy), Kristine Nielsen (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike), and Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother) in her Broadway debut, Present Laughter follows a self-obsessed actor in the midst of a mid-life crisis. Juggling his considerable talent, ego and libido, the theater’s favorite leading man suddenly finds himself caught between fawning ingenues, crazed playwrights, secret trysts, and unexpected twists.
GREAT PERFORMANCES: In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams
Friday, Nov 10, 9 p.m.
In this encore, the cast and creative team of In the Heights — Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning first Broadway musical — embark on the greatest adventure of their young careers as they produce an original Latin and hip-hop-infused musical set outside a bodega in Washington Heights. The documentary offers an intimate look at the creation of the 2008 Best Musical Tony winner, from readings and rehearsals to opening night, chronicling the personal stories of Miranda, Mandy Gonzalez (Hamilton), Christopher Jackson (Hamilton), Priscilla Lopez (A Chorus Line),Karen Olivo (West Side Story), and more.
GREAT PERFORMANCES: Indecent
Friday, November 17, 9 p.m.
Inspired by the controversial 1923 Broadway debut of Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance, this play with music by Pulitzer Prize winner Paula Vogel (How I Learned to Drive) is set at a time when waves of immigrants were changing America. Winner of two 2017 Tony Awards and directed by Rebecca Taichman (Time and the Conways), Indecent follows the cast of God of Vengeance, who risked their lives and careers against enormous challenges to perform a work in which they deeply believed, at a time when art, freedom, and truth were on trial. Told with compassion, honesty, and great theatricality – as well as joyous songs and dances – the critically acclaimed play stars Katrina Lenk (The Band’s Visit), Mimi Lieber (Act One), Max Gordon Moore (Relatively Speaking), and Adina Verson (Indecent, Vineyard Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, and Yale Repertory Theater).
GREAT PERFORMANCES: Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn – The Broadway Musical
Friday, November 24, 9 p.m.
Roundabout Theatre Company presents a toe-tapping new musical inspired by the 1942 Bing Crosby-Fred Astaire film about a performer who leaves the bright lights of Broadway and his fiancé dance partner to settle down at an old Connecticut farmhouse – which he turns into a seasonal inn with spectacular holiday performances. The exuberant musical features thrilling dance numbers by Denis Jones (Honeymoon in Vegas) and a parade of hit Irving Berlin songs, including Blue Skies,” “Easter Parade,” “Cheek to Cheek,” and “Shaking the Blues Away.” The cast includes Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder), Corbin Bleu (Godspell), Lora Lee Gayer (Follies), and Megan Sikora (Curtains).
GREAT PERFORMANCES: Hamilton’s America
December 2017 (check local listings)
Enjoy a special encore of this documentary exploring the fascinating history and creative process behind Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway blockbuster, Hamilton. Footage of the New York production with its original cast and trips to Mt. Vernon, Valley Forge, and other historic locations with Miranda and other cast members flesh out the story. President Barack Obama, President George W. Bush, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Secretary Hank Paulson, Secretary Timothy Geithner, Questlove, Black Thought, Jimmy Fallon, John Weidman, Nas, and Stephen Sondheim are among the notable interviews.
Watch She Loves Me and other programs in the Broadway’s Best line-up on-air or online anywhere you watch PBS programming, including PBS.org and PBS apps for iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast. Visit pbs.org/greatperformances for in-depth features and to watch previews and programs online. Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #BroadwayonPBS.
Elisa Lichtenbaum | @ElisaVonTap
Elisa Lichtenbaum, editor of the monthly THIRTEEN program guide, is also Senior Writer at WNET, a tap dancer, and theater geek.